I couldn’t fall asleep. I couldn’t.
It’s a risk that I just can’t afford to take. That paranoia, lurking just beneath the surface…what if I’m asleep and something happens again? What if I’m unable to protect myself, and someone-
Calm down. I’m safe here. I am.
“Caro can’t you just return to work already? It’s been six months, can’t you just get over it?” My mother asks, frowning in annoyance. Gritting my teeth, I shake my head.
“What part of ‘I don’t feel safe around male wolves’ do you still not understand? It doesn’t matter how many months pass, I will never be the same again,” I whisper, feeling a familiar mix of anger and sadness.
No one understands. No one knows the pain that I’m still in. My mother sighs, standing up. “Well, I’m going to go talk to your father and explain that you still refuse to help him- or even see him- as one of our only two pack healers. Come on Caro, you can’t keep being so- so selfish. You have to think about the pack and not just yourself. After everything we did for you…” she fades off, huffing in frustration before leaving the room. Wiping away the stray tear from my cheek, I take a deep breath. Next month it’ll be my 24th birthday, and I’d always assumed that as one of the pack healers, I’d have a lot of friends by my side for the evening. I mean, I was popular at one point. Sure, I’ve always been a little shy, but I got on well with everyone.
And now, I can’t even talk to a single male wolf.
Maybe I should just leave. It’s not like I’m helping the pack out; I was at one point, but I just- I just can’t, anymore. Maybe I should go live with the humans? That would be less intimidating, even if men are still kind of terrifying to me, regardless of whether they’re human or wolf or whatever. At least that way, I could live alone, without my pack constantly pestering me to go back to my duties. Maybe I could just…recover, by myself?
It’s got to be worth a shot, right?
I’m not a rogue. I’m not like them. I’m still a part of my pack, I just don’t live with them anymore. Thankfully, the luna was kind enough to help me set up in a human town, finding me a nice place to live in a safe area. Apparently there is a pack here, but they have their own part of the town and generally don’t come into the human side of the town, except for a few kids that go to the school.
I’ll be alright here. It gives me time. And what I need more than anything, is just…Time. I’ll be ok…
Taking another deep breath, I step out of my apartment. I haven’t left for a few days, when the nightmares came back with a vengeance. I was practically bedridden, and this time I didn’t have my pack to take care of me. But now, I have renewed motivation. I don’t want to be a healer or doctor or anything anymore, but I do still like taking care of people. So I did a little research…and I’ve decided that maybe being a therapist would be nice. I’m still recovering from my own trauma, but maybe by helping others, I could help myself too. It’s just an idea, anyway. Whether I ever actually act on it, I can’t be sure. But it’s nice to have dreams again.
I had managed to have an entirely peaceful existence in this town, until the Hunters came. I didn’t even know how they found me, until they explained that my pack told them about me. And now they want to dredge up all my painful memories.
“Caro, we don’t want to make you relive anything horrible. But those rogues will be going on trial, and we have a lot of evidence against them. Your testimony would be helpful, but in no way do you have to do anything that you aren’t comfortable with,” the Hunter informs me, her eyes gentle and understanding. She doesn’t want to make things difficult for me.
“I-I just don’t understand. Are they being charged with what they- what they did to me, or…or did they…do it to someone else?” I whisper, my heart clenching in pain at the thought of more victims. The Hunter’s expression softens, and she nods.
“Actually, the case they’ll be charged with happened before yours. It was the…starting point of their attacks, it seems. We just happen to have a lot of evidence - even photographic evidence - for that case. We’re going to get them charged with attempted murder as well as rape.”
My heart clenches and I look away from the Hunter. Should I do this? Should I…should I even put myself in harm’s way like that? I would have to see them again, but…if I could help…
“Would I get to meet this other victim?” I ask after a moment. Maybe if I was able to talk to someone who went through the same thing as me - worse actually, by the sounds of that attempted murder charge - then we could help each other.
“At the trial yes, and if you wanted to stay in contact with him after then I’m sure he would agree. He is actually a close friend of mine and I assure you that he is one of the most lovely people I have ever met,” the Hunter says softly.
A male wolf. Would I even be alright around another male wolf? Maybe I would…I mean, he is a victim, just like me, so…
“I’ll do it. I’ll testify against them.”
Testifying was the right choice. Whether it actually helped to get those rogues put away or not, it doesn’t really matter. Because at the end of the day, I got something so incredibly precious out of it.
I got Atticus.
Someone who really, truly understands me, when no one else even tried to. It was hard being around male wolves again - I’ve gotten pretty good around humans, but seeing Atticus was the first time I’d been around a male wolf voluntarily in a long time. Plus there was his whole family present for the trial too, but I wasn’t…I wasn’t afraid. Everyone was there to support Atticus, because they all love him. So I wasn’t scared of them. Any of them. And for the first time since I was 23, I got to spend a birthday with the people I love and care about.
Atti and Blake became firm friends of mine, and it helped that we both live in the human part of the town. I was even able to go visit Atti’s pack, and although I was nervous, it was ok. Finally, I really felt like I was healing. It had taken me five years since I was raped, but I was healing.
And then I met him.
I met my mate.